WNO's once and future president
In today's Washington Post: WNO's Feinberg gets extension as president.
Forget about term limits. The Washington National Opera board has just overridden its own to appoint Kenneth R. Feinberg, the company's president, to serve a third, two-year term.
(read more after the jump)
The company can certainly use the leadership. Since Mark Weinstein was effectively removed as Executive Director last year (he is still listed on the company's website, but after the official announcement that he was going to devote all his time to fund-raising, his picture has been conspicuously absent from recent programs), the opera is in the same position of lacking an in-house administrative head that it was in before Weinstein arrived.
As a board member, Feinberg can't quite fill the breech (he was, after all, on the board that decided the opera needed Weinstein in the first place), but he does bring considerable knowledge of both finances and diplomacy to the table. (Before acting as the special master of executive compensation for TARP, aka the "pay czar," he served in the same function with the 9-11 Victims Compensation Fund.) Both skills are needed at a company whose last couple of seasons have seen considerable financial belt-tightening, and ever fewer performances. He also genuinely, and passionately, loves opera -- he's even been teaching an opera course at the Levine School this year.
WNO's board has, in the past couple of years, prioritized fiscal responsibility over artistic risk-taking (encouraged, in part, by Weinstein). Still, given the current financial climate, Feinberg represents a continuity and institutional knowledge that will be tremendously helpful in Washington National Opera's immediate future.
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